As Nelson Mandela said, courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it

THIS week the world has lost a towering statesman and an inspiration to the entire human race.

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The death of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95 has led to an outpouring from across the globe, and a celebration of his life and legacy, which will continue to influence generations to come.

This influence is incredible in that it is able to transcend ideology, race and creed and resonate with us all.

Glasgow will always have a special connection with Madiba. Glaswegians fought hard against the injustice of apartheid, and concentrated on the campaign to free Nelson Mandela.

At a time when Mandela was thought of by many - including some in the UK Government - as a terrorist, Glasgow made the ground- breaking decision to award him the Freedom of the City in 1981, when he was still imprisoned.

I am so proud that we were the first place in the world to make this brave decision.

Support for the campaign to free Nelson Mandela continued when, in 1986, St George's Place in the city centre was renamed Nelson Mandela Place in his honour and marches and rallies were held as part of the anti-apartheid movement.

When Mandela was freed, he was determined to recognise Glasgow's part in the struggle, and he visited our city in 1993 to thank Glaswegians personally.

He described how Glasgow would always enjoy a distinguished place in the records of the international campaign against apartheid - and here in the city we continue to fight against racism and injustice to this day.

Nelson Mandela is a true inspiration to us all. Even though I never had the great privilege of meeting him, it feels as if I have had the honour of doing so.

I have always said Modern Studies lessons at school inspired me to become involved in politics, but specifically it was the story of Mandela's struggle against apartheid and racism in South Africa which motivated me. Hearing about his fight for equality and to eliminate oppression struck a chord.

Mandela will be remembered as a figure who united, rather than divided. An icon of reconciliation, even after 27 years imprisonment under apartheid, he held no bitterness against his captors and forgave them.

We can all learn from his incredible strength of character.

I am pleased that Glasgow recognised Mandela's fight for equality during the era of apartheid, and our city continues to fight today against racism and inequality.

Recent tragic events have shown the world how Glaswegians will come together and support each other in times of need.

I have been overwhelmed by the news that donations to the Clutha Appeal Fund have come from overseas as well as from within Scotland.

The donation of £20,000 to the fund by Glasgow City Council has been matched by the Scottish Government, and funds continue to pour in.

The Fund will help not only the survivors of the tragedy and the families of those who died, but will also honour the bravery of our rescue services and ordinary members of the public involved in the rescue efforts.

As Nelson Mandela said, I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.

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